Saturday, September 27, 2014

Akron 21 Pittsburgh 10

Well, that's how you make sure there's nobody left that believes in the program. I will make this quick and simple.

1. Chad Voytik was bad. I always said that the lack of quarterback recruiting by Paul Chryst would hurt him and here it is.

2. The offensive line stunk.

3.  The defense stunk.

4. Most of all, Chryst and his staff stunk.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pittsburgh 20 Iowa 24

Well, that didn't go well.  After it looked like Pitt had things in hand, they let it get away. Some thoughts:

1. The biggest thought I have is that, like I said in my season preview, Pitt has the talent of a 7-5 team. And the weaknesses that make them just a barely above average team is the reason why they lost the game. Those weaknesses are the ability for Chad Voytik to win a game when needed, no playmakers on defense, no pass rush, and a poor secondary. Pitt may very well do better than 7-5, and I predicted 8-4, but that's mostly because of a schedule devoid of excellent teams. The truth is, quarterback and defense is a weakness, and I don't see it getting better anytime soon.

2.  James Conner was great again, but Iowa is good enough that when they knew Pitt was going to run him in the second half, they could slow him up some. He did run for 155 yards on 29 carries, and a TD. But only 55 yards of that came in the second half. And only on 12 carries.

3.  Statistically, Voytik did a letter better than usual but when your best game is 19-29, 250 yards, no TDs, and an interception, it's a problem.  He may get better but if he doesn't he's going to lose his job to Adam Bertke next season.

4.  Somehow Tyler Boyd with 10 catches for 153 yards.  I say somehow because he's pretty much the only player Voytik throws to, so it's amazing he can even get open.

5. Once again the tight ends aren't involved at all, and despite his nice fourth quarter grab, Manasseh Garner has proven to me that he's pretty mediocre.

6.  Iowa came in with the reputation of having one great offensive tackle but a struggling line as a whole.  But when it came down to it, they stopped Pitt's pass rush cold and ran down their throats when the game was on the line. They had such little regard for Pitt that they continually went for it on fourth and one.

7.  The secondary is below average. Lafayette Pitts gets most of the heat, but none of them are above average.

8.  At least Pitt has a good kicker and punter.

9.  Total yards: Pitt 435, Iowa 311.  But when it came down to crunch time Iowa crunched the Panthers.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pittsburgh 42 Florida International 25

And you thought a 17-point win couldn't be embarrassing. Wrong!!! Some thoughts of this ugliness.

1. At least it's a win, FIU is maybe the worst major college program in the country so I wouldn't be too happy about this. And I don't agree with people that say Pitt would have lost games like this in the past. This FIU team lost to Bethune-Cookman, a FCS school, and they are at that level. This may be the worst program Pitt has played in decades. There was a reason there were about a thousand fans there.

2.  I was hoping James Conner could get a rest in this game but Pitt's awful start (and middle, and end) prevented that. He chugged out a harder than expected 177 yards on 30 carries. He also had 3 touchdowns. He also had two fumbles, tough, and that continues to be a problem for him.

3.  Chad Voytik still isn't lighting up the airways as he went 9-17 for 84 yards, and a TD. He also had an interception. He's going to have to get much better in his passing if Pitt is going to beat real times. They are not going to be able to run over everybody. Voytik did run over everybody though as he ran for 113 yards on 12 carries. He also ran for a touchdown.

4.  Tyler Boyd had just 4 catches for 50 yards, including a nice TD grab.

5.  The defense was not good, giving up way too much to such an awful team. Nobody really stood out for the good, and the cornerbacks again looked suspect. They did have four sacks but for most of the game there wasn't much pressure.

6.  Paul Chryst replaced Voytik with Trey Anderson early in the 4th quarter with Pitt up by just 7 points. This is what's known in the business as stupid.  Anderson fumbled the snap on second down then got sacked form behind on 3rd down. I have no idea why he did that. If Voytik had to come out for some reasonable reason than I will take it back, but they didn't work on him and he came back on the next drive.

7.  The pass protection is still not good.

8.  Pitt had more yards, 418-300. The Panthers ran for 320 yards, but passed for just 98.  FIU had 62 yards rushing, on 1.9 yards a carry, but had 238 yards passing. Giving that much up to most teams would be good, but this is FIU we're talking about.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pittsburgh 30 Boston College 20

Two games, two very impressive wins. Some thoughts:

1. James Conner. What more can you say? He had 36 carries for 214 yards and a touchdown. He is looking like a legitimate Heisman candidate after two games. But I am worried that he ran 36 games against Boston College. It's a long season and there will be games where he's needed even more.

2.  Chad Voytik was shaky at first, despite one nice long run in the first quarter. But after two poor passes in a row in the second quarter, including an interception, he was better. Many inexperienced players like him could fold in that situation but he actually was better. He still has along way to go and must get a lot better if Pitt is going to have a truly special season, but as he gets more confidence he could reach higher levels. On the game he was 10-20 for 111, 2 TDs, and an interception. He also ran for 47 yards on 6 carries.

3.  Tyler Boyd is going to be hampered somewhat this season because of Voytik but he still makes it count when he gets the ball. He came down with 5 catches for 72 yards, and 2 TDs.  He also had 2 rushes for 23 yards.

4.  The offensive line was a bit shaky at first, and still isn't great in pass protection, but in the run game they have been outstanding. Injuries to Artie Rowell and T.J. Clemmings are worrisome, though, because the reserves are inexperienced.

5.  Chris James had 5 carries for 20 yards, and he had one particularly nice 3-yard run on a 3rd and 3.

6.  The defense was excellent for the most part, especially the linebackers.  Matt Galambos, Todd Thomas, and Anthony Gonzalez all played very well, especially Thomas.  The line was also very good both against the run and in the pass rush, though Pitt's best pass rush came on the blitz.  Nicholas Grigsby can really get into the backfield in a hurry.

7.  Three of the defensive backs may be solid in Ray Vinopal, Terrish Webb, and Reggie Mitchell, but Lafayette Pitts continues to struggle. Vinopal and Webb had the two interceptions while the ball rarely went Mitchell's way.

8. Chris Blewitt may be an all-star placekicker. The program hasn't had great kickers over the years, but Blewitt may be one. He was 3-3 on FGs, with all of them over 40 yards.

9. Ryan Winslow also looks like a pretty decent punter thus far, unlike last year when the ball was kicked 70 yards or 20 yards.

10.  Paul Chryst couldn't be happy with the effort at the end of the game. Young teams need to learn to win by closing out a game. They did that, but then got lazy in the last few minutes.

11.  The Panthers ran for 303 yards and they may just be the top rushing team in the country at the end of the weekend.

12.  Pitt had 414 yards to Boston College's 276, but to be honest a lot of the Eagles' yards came after the game was over. And a lot more of it came on a long run early in the game. Other than that Pitt's defense was stifling. It helped that Tyler Murphy is a terrible passing quarterback.

Top 10 PA Players in the 2016 Class

It's no longer too early to talk about underclassmen since so many now commit early. With recruiting more aggressive than ever, schools around the country now try to wrap up kids before their junior season is over. And I wouldn't be surprised if half this list commits in that timeframe.

1. Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh) RB- There haven't been a lot of big time running backs coming out of the WPIAL over the past decade or so, but Sanders is the real deal. A solid 5'10" and 195 pounds with great vision, speed, quickness, and pass catching ability. In other words, he's the complete package. Already committed to PENN STATE over a group of offers that included Pittsburgh, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech. If he didn't already commit before his junior season started, he would have had a lot more major offers.

2. Michal Menet, Exeter Township HS (Reading) OT- First of all, his first name is not a typo, that's how he spells it.  Secondly, what a good young lineman. It's rare for a sophomore in high school to get major offers because they generally take a lot longer to develop, but Menet is a special player. He's only 6'5" 250 now so obviously he'll need to put on about 50 pounds over the next two years. But everything else is there from the strong frame and quick feet, to the toughness and technique. He's from Penn State country so you have to assume they're the leader, but other early offers have come from Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

3. Naseir Upshur, Imhotep Institute Charter HS (Philadelphia) TE- A few months ago I thought I found a sleeper.  Now he's one of the most offered sophomores in the country. He's a solidly built 6'3" and 235 pounds already, and he has all the tools to be a top tight end, especially his vicious blocking skills, a rarity for such a young tight end. As an added bonus, if he doesn't work out at tight end, he could be an excellent defensive end. Many major offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.

4. Brandon McIlwain, Council Rock North HS (Newtown) QB- You know it's a loaded year when this kid is No. 4 in the state. Not big at 6'0" 205, and he has to work on his passing skills, but he's an off the charts athlete with a cannon for an arm and blazing speed. His many offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Florida, Auburn, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Tennessee, North Carolina, and UCLA.

5. Aaron Matthews, Clairton Area HS (Clairton) WR- Kids from this Class A powerhouse get under recruited and those that missed the boat on former teammate Tyler Boyd may miss this boat on this special player, too. At 6'5" and 190 pounds, he's already a great target. The fact that he will only get bigger and has great speed, athleticism, jumping ability, and hands makes him even more exciting. His two big offers right now are Pittsburgh and West Virginia with the rest of the country asleep at the wheel.

6. Damar Hamlin, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) CB/S- Great length if he sticks at corner at 6'1" and 180 pounds. Has good speed and cover ability but may be better off at safety over time. Either way he has the ability to be a big time player. Early offers so far include Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Ohio State.

7. Cary Angeline, Downingtown East HS (Exeter) TE- Basically a tall (very tall) wide receiver right now at 6'7" and 235 pounds. He has no inline blocking skills to speak of so that's something he will need to develop, but as a pass catcher he looks enormous with his long wingspan. He also is a good athlete that runs well, and has excellent hands. Pitt curiously hasn't offered him, but many others have including Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Miami, Northwestern Virginia, and North Carolina.

8. Kaezon Pugh, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa) RB/LB- Maybe the most intriguing player in the class because is he a running back, a linebacker, or could he end up on the defensive line eventually? Right now he's 6'2" and 205 pounds, but his physique looks like he could get bigger. Already a bull and a superb athlete, he's pure raw talent right now. Will he explode into greatness? That's the question. Many Quips do. Right now Pittsburgh and West Virginia are his offers.

9. Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport Area HS (McKeesport) S/LB- Part safety, part linebacker, all football player. A solid 6'0" 205 pounds now, and how big he gets will likely determine where he plays. Either way he is one of the hardest hitters in the state and he has very good athleticism as well. Bottom line, he's a really good player and one of my favorites.  Biggest early offers thus far are Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

10. Anthony Long, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg) DT- Big 6'3" 295 pound defensive lineman that can move like this kid are highly coveted. That's why his early offer list includes Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia Tech.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Panthers pick up another behemoth offensive lineman

In a bit of a surprise, the Panthers landed 6'6" 300 pound offensive lineman Rob Dowdy tonight. Dowdy plays for Westerville South HS in Westerville, OH. He is in the 2015 class. As recently as a few weeks ago, Dowdy did not have the Panthers in his top four. Dowdy can play either on the outside or inside, but if I had to guess I would think that he will end up at guard. Other offers included Miami, Michigan State, Louisville, and West Virginia.